Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Divide and Conquer

Because I'm all about honesty...

Divide and Conquer.  That seems to be our theme this summer.  And it's exhausting. Tonight, Sophia has a swim meet in McPherson.  Anna has a t-ball game and team pictures in Valley.  So Chris and I will spend another night split between kids' activities. 

The sad reality is that both of us would prefer to be at the swim meet.  I know parents aren't supposed to admit that, but it's true.  It's so much more fun than a t-ball game.  It's exciting to see her swim the different events and get faster each time.  She's so proud of those ribbons she earns.  And it's cooler by the pool.  Maybe it's just the VC ball fields.  But it's hot there.  Like, hardly any trees, sun setting in your face hot.  Wind blowing red dirt in your eyes hot.  Anna's good.  Don't get me wrong, she's honestly much better at ball than Sophia was.  She can hit.  She can field.  And she can throw a ball straight down the line.  But she's not aggressive. And there's always a little guy on the team that is.  That boy, unfortunately, is often right next to Anna in the field.  The frustration, the tears.  It's not good.  We actually had to say something to the coach last time - and they were honestly trying to get the little guy to give her a chance.  But, you can't physically hold him back (though the thought did cross my mind!). 

So tonight, I'm going to t-ball.  Because, well, if she ends up crying during the game, she'll probably need her mom.  But, I'll have my cell phone with me waiting to here how Sophia's doing.  And I'll be praying for a positive attitude.  The last thing I want is for Anna to know I'd rather be at the swim meet.  Because being a parent means putting your kids' needs before your own desires. 

So, tonight, I'll be the one squinting into the sun watching a little girl play ball. Sam will come home dirtier than any of the kids on either of the ball teams.  And, hopefully, a couple little girls will have had a lot of fun tonight at their different activities! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

How I spent my 10 year anniversary...

Since it's Kansas, and June, this is how we spent our 10 year anniversary.  We were in the middle of dinner when the tornado sirens and alarms went off. 
Huddled together in our storage room taking cover from a tornado warning.  Yes, Isabella is still eating.  Sam insisted on wearing his Spiderman costume and a "hardware" themed necktie.  Eventually, they added in their Thomas the Train and school bus tents for further protection (i.e., more fun with the flashlights).

The actual suspicious rotating cloud was directly west of us for half an hour. And it looked pretty creepy watching it slowly spin.  It had produced a funnel and could at any time.  "If you're in Valley Center, take cover now."  Lovely.  Luckily it slowly moved on by and while there was more roof damage to some of our neighbors, and trees down in some places in town, the most we had was marble sized hail, TONS of rain, and 60+ mile winds.  We were very thankful!

It's funny the things you think to grab "just in case."  I got all the kids' shoes, hoodies, our cameras, laptop, my purse, and flashlights.  Chris grabbed his grad school homework and Bible.  He's just got two weeks left of this particular class and didn't want to have trouble finishing it. 

Luckily Chris and I have our "real" date tonight where we will get to go to dinner without ordering any kids' meals or cutting anyone else's food up.  No hot wheels on the table or coloring on place mats.  We'll actually have to talk to each other!  Hope we can still remember how to do that!   

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sophia's first swim meet

Tuesday was Sophia's first swim meet.  It was against Winfield - last year's league champions and obviously a much larger team.  It seemed like in most races 6 out of the 8 lanes were filled with their racers - all the lanes in some races. 

But Sophia worked really hard.  Her relay team placed 3rd in two different events.  And she improved her time in her freestyle by 12 seconds and backstroke by 15 seconds from time trials only 4 days earlier.  Plus, as Chris tells me, their pool was several feet longer than ours.  She swam in 6 events and was so ridiculously tired, but told me several times it was much more fun than softball last year.  She technically DQed her last event.  Out of pure exhaustion she stopped and put her feet on the ground to catch her breath.  But when the results came back they forgot to mark her as a DQ.  Lucky girl. 

Here are a few pictures from the event.

It was a lot of fun and we're looking forward to a home meet this Tuesday! 
Good luck Purple Wave!

Confession # 7: Chris was right.

I know that most parents sign their kids up for a ton of activities.  It's great for them to try new things and figure out what they enjoy at an early age.  They learn a ton from being on a team and listening to coaches, or dance instructors, or library story tellers, or piano teachers. You get the picture.   It's generally a really good thing.  Except that families are so busy now.  Exhaustively busy actually.  Like, spend your entire day driving your kids around to their next scheduled activity busy.  And the more kids the busier you are. 

So, for now our kids can have one activity.  During the summers generally that's been t-ball or machine pitch.  (For full disclosure they also always do swim lessons, but that doesn't count in my book for some reason).  We have spent 4 years at the ball fields watching t-ball.  And I'll admit - it's not that fun.  It's hot.  Really hot in Kansas.  101 degrees hot.  There is no shade.  And the sun does not get low enough to be hidden.  Ever.  Plus, t-ball lacks all the essentials for excitement.  There are no points kept.  No kids get out.  Which is great for the kiddos when they're learning.  It is not great for the fans.  Last year we had one in t-ball and one in machine-pitch.  It was exhausting sitting out there every night of the week in that heat! 

All these years Chris has been telling me that we just need to put the kids on the swim team.  He and his brother and sister all did the swim team for many years.  His mom's rationale was simple.  1)  It's a basic life skill everyone should have (and our house backs up to a pond).  2) All the kids' practices and meets are at the same place at the same time.   Thus you aren't splitting up at different ball fields every day of the week.  I got that, but I never felt like our kids were ready for the team.  They've all done lessons since they were little.  But that's just a few weeks out of the summer, not enough to every really become good swimmers. 

But this year Sophia wanted to try and she was completely over machine-pitch softball.  So we signed up.  I was really nervous because it said you had to be able to swim the 50 meter length of the pool.  I KNEW she couldn't do that!  She couldn't even doggy paddle that far.  But we signed up anyways.  Last Tuesday was her first practice and exactly one week later was her first meet.  Six races later...my girl is becoming a real swimmer! 

I'll post pictures soon, but who knew? It was shocking in all seriousness that the girl could race the length of the pool that many times when only a week earlier she couldn't doggy paddle it.  And let me tell you about the temperatures.  It's cooler at a pool.  Cooler at least than the dirt ball field.  Other parents and teammates cheer for your kids.  Even the ones in last place.  Especially the ones in last place.    

So, I am officially stating, for the record, that Chris was right.  I don't say things like that very often!!  The swim team is more exciting to watch than girls t-ball/machine pitch softball.  I enjoy it so much more, and so does Sophia.  We're already trying to figure out if all 3 girls can do it next year so we can hopefully avoid 2 more years of t-ball with Isabella. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Back to the Flint Hills

Lately, our family has been so busy we've been really starved for some quality time.  This last year, much of Chris' free time has been spent working on his grad school homework.  Only 1 more year left!!  When he's not doing that, he's busy with church obligations, and projects around the house.  I've been busy too so it seems like we've spent a lot of time tag team parenting on the weekends, or sending the kids out back or downstairs to play so we can get everything done.  Not our dream parenting style.  So we're trying to squeeze in more family time together! 

Monday we took the kids back up to Tallgrass Prairie.  We LOVE hiking up there.  We call it hiking in the sense that you are off paved roads.  Some of the trails are simply mowed paths through the prairie, some are dirt roads. Technically it's more walking than hiking in my book.  Except for the one time we somehow got off the trail and ended up dredging through marshy grass taller than us and climbing over a fence.  Not our finest navigational moment! 

But, it's just beautiful if you love the Flint Hills.  The rolling pastures are just really a sight to see.  My grandparents used to have a ranch in the Flint Hills and going there always make me think of all those fun childhood memories.  This time we decided to take the bus tour.  We'd never done that before and got to see more of the park and got right up close to their herd of bison.  A little too close according to Sam who really wanted back on the bus!  We learned a ton about the area and it was a great tour.  The kids like the painted bus. 

It was a windy day - 40 mile an hours winds near Wichita.  Much stronger up in the Flint Hills.  At one point we stood at the top of one of the hills and just standing was difficult for the kids.  The wind was literally blowing them over. Sam was stumbling.  Something every kids should experience if you ask me!  You couldn't talk because nobody could hear you.  Gotta love Kansas!  But it did make the short hike we took later a little more tiring. 

After we were done we went up to Council Grove to eat at the Hays House.  It began in 1857 and claims to be the oldest continually operating restaurant west of the Mississippi.  The food was excellent and the town is really a neat little Kansas town.  We didn't see much, but will go back some time to see more.

We were gone from home 7 hours and spent the entire time together!  The kids didn't argue once until we were about 5 minutes from home.  It was much needed time together.  Now we've just got to squeeze more time like that out this summer.